While there’s no substitute for consistent, healthy habits, your physician may suggest a nutritional supplement to enhance your heart-healthy lifestyle.
- Soluble fiber: Psyllium (seed grain) is available as a laxative and fiber supplement. Oats and barley contain beta glucan, another soluble fiber that lowers LDL cholesterol.
- Red yeast rice (RYR) extract: A product of yeast (Monascus purpureus) grown on rice, RYR contains monacolins, which are similar in chemical structure to drugs lovastatin and mevinolin and inhibit cholesterol production. Several studies suggest that RYR may lead to a moderate reduction in LDL cholesterol. Side effects are rare, but information on long-term safety is limited so proceed with caution.
- Fish oil: Studies on Omega-3 fats in cold-water fish have been positive for reducing triglycerides. Omega-3 fats also have other potential cardiovascular benefits.
- CoQ10: CoQ10 has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on blood vessel function. CoQ10 studies show benefits for patients after bypass surgery and heart failure.
A cautionary note for anyone with heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol: The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements or their ingredients as strictly as it does conventional food or medicine, so it’s crucial to discuss them with a doctor before you start taking them to ensure proper monitoring of their effects.
This post was written by Robert Graham, MD, Associate Program Director and Director of Resident Research at the Department of Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital.
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